How did Baltimore, ‘last place forever’, become the strongest team in the league?

The ‘last place’ Baltimore Orioles, who had not lost the top spot for a single moment since late July of this year, won the first game of their four-game home series against the Boston Red Sox on September 28 (local time), finally finishing for the first time in nine years. The American League (AL) Eastern Division championship was confirmed.

Until the first half of the year, they were ranked second in the district behind Tampa Bay, but after the second half, they showed a rapid rise to 46 wins and 24 losses (a winning percentage of .657). Thanks to this, Baltimore finally took the highest position in the Eastern Division, overtaking Tampa Bay, which collapsed in July.아톰카지노

In the AL East, which is filled with strong competitors such as traditional powerhouses New York Yankees and Boston, Toronto, which has steadily invested in player recruitment, and emerging powerhouse Tampa Bay, Baltimore not only won the championship, but also ranked first in the American League. This is considered one of the biggest surprises compared to expectations before the start of the 2023 season, and many major league fans are paying attention to the secret of Baltimore’s success this season.

Success in nurturing its own prospects and building the best team without large investments.

Baltimore’s team payroll this season is $71 million (95.8 billion), ranking 28th, the lowest among all major league teams. Nevertheless, Baltimore built the most solid squad in the league and created the most dramatic turnaround in history, leaping from a team that recorded 110 losses two seasons ago (2021 season) to a team that won more than 100 games for the first time in major league history.

The biggest secret to Baltimore’s excellent performance despite being at the bottom of the team’s payroll is thanks to its ability to develop its own players at the highest level in the league.

Baltimore, which ranked last in the major leagues since the 2018 season, continued to receive top draft picks. The prospects who have been steadily collected over the years have been nurtured according to the club’s plan and have grown into leading players in Baltimore’s district championship this season.

Baltimore, which appointed general manager Mike Elias, who contributed greatly to Houston’s transformation into a consistently strong team in the past, in the 2019 season, focused on nurturing prospects, including installing the latest analysis equipment at the minor league team’s stadium.

As a result, catcher Lutchman and multi-infielder Henderson, the first and 42nd overall picks in the 2019 draft, have grown into key fielders with the league’s best skills this season despite experiencing trial and error in the minor league. (The two players’ win contribution compared to their replacements was 6.1/4.9, respectively, ranking among the highest in the league).

In addition, Rodriguez, the 11th pick in the 2018 draft who refined his changeup while playing in the minor leagues, and Bradish, whose slider and curve perfection have greatly improved, proved to be the aces who will lead the Baltimore mound by playing as the league’s best one-two punch in the second half of the season. (Second half performance – Bradish: 7 wins, 3 losses, ERA 2.40, Rodriguez: 5 wins, 2 losses, ERA 2.58, 3rd and 5th in league ERA in the second half, respectively).

In addition, Jennier Cano and Felix Bautista, players who were not even in the team’s prospect rankings, also greatly improved their command through minor league training and showed the ability to play as the league’s best bullpen pitchers. In this way, Baltimore was able to become the strongest team in the AL after several years of intense preparation based on the outstanding capabilities of its minor league training team.

The biggest reason why Baltimore was able to win the AL East division over its strong competitor, Tampa Bay, this season was because it achieved a very good record of 11 wins and 6 losses in overtime Not only that, but unlike Tampa Bay, which was weak in close games, it recorded an extremely high winning percentage of 30 wins and 16 losses in games with a one-point difference (Tampa Bay 22 wins and 25 losses). This winning percentage is the best in the American League.

The biggest secret to Baltimore’s strong performance in close games this season is that the fielders showed great concentration when there were runners in scoring position.

This season, Baltimore’s team scoring OPS is 0.837 and wRC+ (adjusted scoring creation) is 127, both ranking first in the league. Baltimore hitters showed much greater concentration in scoring situations than usual. (10th/8th in OPS and wRC+ overall in the season league)

Additionally, Baltimore’s runners on second base targeted home much more aggressively than league average and had an excellent run-on-base attempt margin of +5, the highest in the league. There was a positive sign of increased team concentration in scoring situations, with runners excellently converting batters’ good hits into runs.

The pitching staff also recorded the lowest WHIP (runners allowed per inning) in the league (1.06) in high-leverage situations (critical situations late in the game), showing an increase in concentration in situations that were as important as the fielding staff, and showing excellent control of the opposing batting lineup. Thanks to this, unlike last year, Baltimore was able to transform into the league’s strongest player in close games (23 wins and 24 losses in games with a one-point margin last season).

Baltimore, which has proven the results of five years of rebuilding this season, is scheduled to enter the postseason for the first time in seven years as the No. 1 seed in the AL. Baseball Reference, a leading ML record site, estimates Baltimore’s probability of winning the World Series at 16.6%, the second highest in the entire major league (18.2% for Atlanta).

Can Baltimore, which achieved the highest winning percentage in the American League this season by demonstrating outstanding concentration in scoring position, stand at the top in the postseason as well? Attention is being paid to whether Baltimore, led by the spirit of its young players, can achieve its ultimate goal of winning its first championship in 40 years.

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